Sponsored In Part By
Sixty Watt Shaman • Seed of Decades
Maryland’s best kept secret is ripe for the picking, rock fans! A
quartet by the name of Sixty Watt Shaman is bound to explode into a dive
club near you and blow you away with selections from their debut 13-track
gem Seed Of Decades. If any album was considered for absolute
rocktitude, this would be it. Blending the down home, dirty Sabbath-meets-Skynyrd
sound completed by a booming rhythm section and vocals that go off the
charts, SWS is a surefire winner. This quartet stomps like Sabbath
("Seed Of Decades"), are as eclectic as Clutch ("Rumor Den"), stings like
Kyuss ("Devil In The Details") and quite possibly plays the most real version
of stoner rock out there on the circuit today ("Red Colony"). For
a ride you’ll never forget, check this CD out immediately.
Velvet • Tragic
Signal to Noise Records
Velvet is a mid-Atlantic outfit that leans on the emo rock side of the
fence ("Pheremoans"), shown on their eight track release Tragic.
Blending the dynamics of Hum with the songwriting prowess of the Foo Fighters,
Velvet show that they don’t have to be stupid to be heavy ("Falling Down"),
nor do they have to be suicidal or melancholy to be emotional ("Vice Versa").
Velvet is definitely a band reared from the grunge era, yet they show that
they have evolved quite a bit, mixing in shades of nu metal and good old
fashioned ass kicking rock and roll to keep the mix fresh and current.
Check out these guys for a solid piece of rock and roll.
Symphony X • V
Metal Blade Records
Symphony X’s latest release is a masterpiece of epic metal. This 13 track
disc shines with musical virtuosity from end to end, as this New Jersey
quintet mixes the progressive metal tones of such luminaries as Dream Theater
and King Crimson with the symphonic wherewithal of any famous contemporary
composer. These ultra-talented musicians have actually put together a CD
that sounds as majestic as a Star Wars soundtrack, yet cuts and feels as
heavy and intense as a Priest or Maiden release. Symphony X creates one
of the most sterling metal sounds to date with their combination of lethal
axework and strong metal rhythms ("Evolution") with lush interludes ("On
The Breath of Poseidon"). Achieving a perfect balance between serene and
extreme ("Rediscovery"), Symphony X is a must-hear for the disenchanted
rock fan who thinks that all that roam the earth these days are baggy jeaned
hip hop rockers. Pick it up and get swept away.
Tristania • Beyond the Evil
Tristania is one of the best selling Goth metal outfits worldwide and it’s
easy to see why judging by their new 10 track disc. Not only can you run
down the checklist and find everything here to produce a fine Goth rock
outfit, but Tristania go that extra mile to include some unorthodox sounds
and styles to enhance the beauty of their sound. Whether it be the use
of a fiddle ("Beyond The Veil") or a Gregorian chorus ("Heretique") backed
by a techno beat, Tristania adds it all on top of their already solid Goth
metal mix for a sublime listening experience. If you like Gothic rock/metal
and Type O is a bit too campy for you, check out Tristania and see how
it’s done when taken deadpan seriously.
Nile • Black Seeds of Vengeance
Nile is what other death metal bands want to be. Supreme. The tops, bar
none. Yes, they are this good. Blending snippets of all that is metal from
Danzig’s grind ("The Dream Of Ur") to Morbid Angel’s snarl ("Masturbating
The War God") to Napalm Death’s blasts ("Defiling The Gates of Ishtar")
to some of the most thrashing death metal riffages heard on CD, Nile is
the real deal. Death metal has never sounded so brutally uncompromising
than on their 12 track jewel. Add into the fray Nile’s flair for Egyptian
instrumentation and music (hence the name, folks), and we’ve got a potent
mix of Middle Eastern moshing madness. Definitely worth a listen for those
who consider themselves metal mavens.
Alice Cooper • Brutal Planet
One of the originators of the shock rock genre returns triumphantly with
a blazing 11 track CD that can show his influences a thing or two. Alice
Cooper is truly one of rock and roll’s trailblazing artists, and on Brutal
Planet, it seems that Alice still has a lot of life left in his musical
career. Sounding as current as his shock rock contemporaries, Cooper and
company bang out some hard hitting anthemic rock tunes that drip with attitude
and have an electronic rock feel. Nonetheless, these tunes still are branded
with the trademark Cooper characteristics ("Pick Up The Bones"), such as
a hooky chorus and gritty guitar work ("Sanctuary," "Blow Me A Kiss").
And of course, Alice’s staple vocals and lyrics, which go from the sardonic
to the sarcastic on the drop of a dime ("It’s The Little Things"). Maybe
Alice was sick and tired of certain "controversial" artists not giving
him any respect, so he took matters into his own hands. Brutal Planet
is the result, and man, maybe Alice should get snubbed a little more often
if this is what he’s going to give us in return. Strong stuff from a legendary
artist who can now put another feather in his guillotine.
Cannibal Corpse • Live Cannibalism
Metal Blade Records
Cannibal Corpse is one of the premier death metal bands in the world and
they have now unleashed a live album for their bloodthirsty fans to feast
on. This 18 track disc takes you straight into the pit and leaves you gasping
for air, spanning the band’s career from the early days with Chris Barnes
up to the new album’s goodies. Not for the weak of heart, Corpse pounds
out blast beat after blast beat with ease and sounds just as good as they
do in the studio. If you missed them live, or you merely would like to
reopen the wounds that they left on you last time you saw them, pick this
Firebird • Firebird
The Music Cartel
Firebird is definitely the most retro band you’ll hear in the year 2000.
Consisting of members of Cathedral, Carcass and Spiritual Beggars, this
groovalicious three piece power trio pound out some of the trippiest rock
and roll tunes this side of 1972 ("Bollard," "Raise A Smile") on their
10 track trek. Imagine Cream in an extended jam with Sabbath ("Torn Down")
and a dash of Deep Purple ("Caught In A Quagmire") and you’ve got what
a handle on what these metal mavens have created. Very unexpected considering
their varied backgrounds, but definitely a welcomed switch up. If you yearn
for the classic rock sound of a guitar driven outfit and are sick of the
rehashed songs your classic rock radio dishes out, check out Firebird.
NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included
in the print edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter.
These reviews are only available here in the online edition.
Mactatus • The Complex Bewitchment
Mactatus is a Norwegian six piece death metal outfit whose eight track
disc is chock full of all that death metal goodness all your friends that
dress in black crave. Breakneck riffs, screams from the lungs of hell,
a piano twinkling in the mix somewhere, it’s all in there ("The Passage").
Also included are some very smooth breakdowns ("Another Dimension") and
enough blasphemy to make the neighbors a little more wary of letting their
house pet out alone while you’re sunning yourself in the backyard. If you
need something a little darker than your antichrist superstar Marilyn M.,
check these guys out. Not only do they seem to be the real deal, but they
manage to rock while singing for Satan ("Iron Handed").
Stitch • Stitch
Metal Blade Records
Surprise, surprise, Stitch hails from California. You’d never have guessed
that from their Korn meets Coal Chamber flavored influences, now would
you? On their eight track disc, this Northern Cali quartet keep the riffs
chunky, the percussion Latin and the metal in the new vein, not unlike
Soulfly, Machine Head, Downset and the ilk. Matter of fact, there’s such
a strong Spanish/Latin musical influence on this CD that you’d think Tito
Puente were conducting the band. Besides their impressive percussive, Stitch
is pretty standard when it comes to the new metal scheme of things. Good
breakdowns, catchy riffs and lots and lots of anger fuel this group throughout.
If you like your metal a little ethnic, check these guys out.
Ray Mumbles • Envy the Ignorant
P.O. Box 0891, Baldwin, NY 11510
Ray Mumbles is a teenage juggernaut that is one part Korn, one part Trent
Reznor and one part Chemical Brothers to create the new sound of the apocalypse
("Pigz"). Imagine Jonathan Davis hooking up with Fear Factory, or even
some Webster Hall hardcore dance beats over some nu metal downtuned guitars
and that’s what you get from Mr. Mumbles ("Disrespect"). While he runs
the risk of treading tired ground, the mix of all the styles Mumbles incorporates
always complement one another, with one never overpowering the other. If
you’d like to hear the sounds of the new brigade, look no further.
Ditchwater • Breakdown
Sandra Bee Mgmt., 16310 St. Louis Ave., Markham, IL 60426
Ditchwater is a hard rock quartet from Illinois that rock in the vein of
Staind on their four song offering. Ditchwater relies on playing hard hitting
rock sans gimmicks. It’s just four guys full of emotion and aggression
giving their all, complete with downtuned guitars that have a semi-death
metal feel and vocal harmonies that complement the thunderous rhythm section
("Breakdown"). If you crave your rock meaty, complete with substance and
an ability to knock you on your ass ("Fragments"), then these guys are
a band you must check out.
Rick Magee and the Roadhouse Rockers • Live at Hazen
High Street Productions, 114 High St., Box 537, Waterford, PA 16441
Dubbed "America's Favorite Biker Band," Rick Magee and The Roadhouse Rockers
live up to their apt title by delivering some down home Southern blues
and rock and roll. On their live 10-track disc, Magee and company keep
the house full of hard drinkin', rough ridin' bikers rockin' with their
performance prowess and some of the hottest licks this side of the Delta
("Devil Woman"). Add to the mix some inspired cover tunes (Hendrix's "Fire"
and Allman Brothers' "Not My Cross To Bear") and a near-8-minute Skynyrd-esque
ballad that's a surefire flick yer Bic song ("I Don't Know"), and we're
about ready to yell for FREEBIRD! If you'd like to hear what one of the
better blues rock bar bands sounds like live and you just can't get to
the gig, then this CD is a welcomed substitute.
The 2 Iguanas From Earth
The 2 Iguanas From Earth is a female guitar/vocal duo from Detroit that
shows a lot of diverse influences on their six song CD. With songs that
range from pop jingles a la The Go-Go’s and The Bangles ("Hi-Jack A Rocket")
to blues soaked ditties a la Bonnie Raitt ("Shot Of Love"), these two ladies
show that they can sing and play with some pop sensibilities and a good
rock and roll foundation. Check out this dynamic duo if you like your music
female fronted with hooks aplenty.
Kruzt • No Accounting For Taste
Kruzt is powered by 2, yet sonically is bombastic. Mixing today's technology
with the big '80s metal hooks and structure, Kruzt has a real down and
dirty sound ("Slaves") that meshes the styles well, almost like an unperverted
Marilyn Manson ("Soldiers"). Some of the songs on their 13-track release
miss the mark, yet the ones that do hit the mark have just the right ingredients
to hit it big. Catchy chorus, memorable guitar line and a good beat that
could be danced to ("Knock About," "Alone"). Definitely something a little
left of center, Kruzt is a pretty good effort at mixing different styles
with some very impressive results.
Ashland • Ashland
By way of Washington, the same state that brought the world Heart and Queensryche,
come Ashland, a powerful and progressive quartet that share many musical
similarities with their hometown heroes. They also draw comparisons
to Rush and Dream Theater in terms of style and delivery on their six song
CD. Ashland can be at times technical yet harmonious with a driving
backbeat ("No Easy Way"), while at other times can be lush and spacious
a la Pink Floyd ("My Sky"). If you like your rock slightly operatic,
with flair and pizzazz to accompany some great riffs and thought provoking
songwriting, then check out Ashland.